Why 2012 is The Year of Zombies

In Florida, a naked man chewed the face off a homeless man in what has been called a zombie-like attack.

In case you're wondering, the two dudes under the bridge ain't sunbathing.
One is eating the other.

In California, an MMA (Multi Martial Arts) fighter cut an 18-inch hole in his partner's chest, removed his heart, cut his tongue off and removed a majority of his face.
This is what you get when an MMA fighter tries to imitate Donald Trump's hairstyle.

In New Jersey, a man allegedly cut out his entrails in front of police and then threw bits of his flesh and intestines at them.

Nah, this ain't the New Jersey knife though.

In Quebec, a Canadian porn star allegedly killed and dismembered his lover before sending body parts to Canadian government offices.

Though Canadian, our Mutilating Porn Star doesn't really look like Justin Bieber.
Sorry, girls.

This string of grisly news probably wouldn't sound too bad if not for the fact that all those four events above occurred within the last two months.

What a sick, repulsive world we live in. The California and Florida case have also mentioned specific narcotic-like substances like bath salt, LSD, or hallucinogenic as the contributing causes.

Sounds familiar, anyone?

Yes, "drugs turning people into cannibals/zombies" is actually the main plot for the Resident Evil franchise.

Apparently the sci-fi movies is closer to real life than we think.

Perhaps this is part of the so-called 2012 Mayan Apocalypse after all. However, instead of having meteor showers or tsunamis, we are facing these small, sporadic events of zombie apocalypse instead.

'post~script  I don't believe in the 2012 prophecy. But sometimes I find it fun to contribute my two cents to this tub of conspiracy theories and feign foolishness myself...


on Indonesian Americans

Below is my little masterpiece in the "What I really do" meme, focusing on Indonesian students in USA and Americans of Indonesian descents alike.


"Turn of Mind" by Alice LaPlante

"Turn of Mind" is a novel about a retired orthopaedic surgeon suffering from onsets of dementia just when her memories are needed the most: she is the main suspect-cum-witness in the murder of her best friend.

The flow of the story can be found as exasperating every now and then, because she will remember certain bits and pieces of conversations from her younger days (which are long-term memories) and her breakfast menu that day (which are short-term memories).

The book is divided into four parts: The first two parts are written on the days when she still has her sanity and (half of) her memories and hence, written in the first-person. The third part is written on the days after she is committed into an old people's home. Here, she starts losing most of her sanity. The switch to second-person perspective in this part is striking, because readers can finally see her world thru her shoes, sometimes reliving memories from her childhood too.

The fourth part of the book, which is written on the very last 15 pages or so of the novel, focusses only after the discovery of who the murderer is (which is a shocker, I tell you!). It takes her off the sane world altogether. Here, despite her mental delusion, she somehow regains most of her memories back on what she remembers out of that murder event.

Sort of an odd turn of events, I say...but on the whole, it is a satisfactory read.

Verdict: 6 out of 10 stars


Indonesian Cuisine Enthralls in the Midwest USA's Asian Food Fest

Ria Ellison, left, and Ake Langlois in front of The House of Sate booth

The Asian Food Fest came to Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio last weekend. The festival brought together various Asian booths from the Greater Cincinnati region (which includes Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky) to serve up taste samples of their best dishes. There was no admission charge for the visitors, but donations were accepted to help Care2Share build village and school facilities in Pleiku, Vietnam.

The festival featured 13 food vendors with a delectable array of dishes. There are those showcasing Thai food, Indian curries, Vietnamese rolls, Filipino barbecue, and Thai bubble tea. Most of them have restaurants in Ohio, while a few others (including Indonesia’s own House of Sate) only have small catering businesses which they run from home.
The man from the Filipino booth carving up the roasted pork for their BBQ

Due to the low prevalence of Asian restaurants, Americans in the Midwest tend to have little idea of what Asian cuisine is like. When they think of Asian food, the only things that come into their mind are the meals in a Chinese restaurant or Japanese's sushi. The Asian Food Fest aims to change that perception by introducing the less-popular Asian cuisine into the general American population.

This was the third time the festival is conducted. However, for the Indonesian American community in Cincinnati, it marked something else altogether. It was our debut in representing our ancestral cuisine to the festival. Ria Fariani Ellison and her partner Ake Nurita Langlois opened up a booth called The House of Sate, where they showcased chicken satay accompanied with yellow rice and 'acar' (pickled vegetables). For dessert, they served 'bolu kukus' (steamed cupcakes).

A resident of Sacramento, California, Langlois visited Cincinnati to help her childhood friend Ria in organizing the Indonesian booth. The pair then invited several of their Indonesian friends to help out with grilling the satay and serving the customers. I was privileged to be one of them.

Unlike Indonesian communities in coastal states like New York and California, those residing in the Midwest tend to be sparse and rare. We do not advertise our existence through the internet, nor do we have many Indonesian restaurants to cater to our longing for Indonesian food.
My friend Kevin Jo, left, and I are grilling the satays. Diva Jonatan in the background is preparing the raw meat.

It was to our delight to find that there are a lot of Indonesians coming to the event, specifically to check out our booth. Some are friends and acquaintances, but most are those who are unaware that Indonesian community around Cincinnati has gained stronger foothold over the last couple of years.

Apart from fellow Indonesians and Asians, there are also other Americans coming with keen interest in Indonesian culture, checking our booth with bits of salutations, "Apa kabar?" and "Selamat siang!" Some were curious of what yellow rice is made of, asking questions like, "Do you mix the rice with saffron like the Indians do" to which we answer that it is rice mixed with turmeric. Some others were peculiarly delighted to see that there is such a thing called "steamed cupcakes."

Visitors to the booth (day 1)

Visitors to the booth (day 2)

The Asian Food Fest came to Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio last weekend. The festival brought together various Asian booths from the Greater Cincinnati region (which includes Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky) to serve up taste samples of their best dishes. There was no admission charge for the visitors, but donations were accepted to help Care2Share build village and school facilities in Pleiku, Vietnam.

There were some concerns among booth participants that it might rain during those two days of the event, since rain has been falling quite sporadically over the last several weeks. Thank goodness, the sun shone brightly and the air was dry, contributing to the larger turnout of the crowd.

A notable visitor was an old lady who came in saying that she had spent a year working in Fatmawati hospital, South Jakarta in 1962. She then told us that she still remembered some folk songs such as "Nona Manis" and "Si Paku Gelang," and asked some of us to sing with her. We were more than happy to oblige. After 50 years of leaving Indonesia, she had a fairly good command of basic Indonesian, and left us impressed. For the whole weekend, we tried our best to become the first ambassadors of Indonesian food and culture to the region.

Vietnamese American Indie singer Andrea Pham
According to the festival's marketing director Bao Nguyen, an estimated number of 10,000 people was expected to come to the event. To accompany their enjoyment of the food, there were several live entertainments at the centerpiece including Japanese pop singer, aikido performance, and a Polynesian dance.
Me and Andrea Pham. My face looks tired!

Panyembrama dance, performed by Jeanne Speier, left, and Kamelia Smith

One performance which quickly became the main highlight of the event was the Balinese dance of Panyembrama, performed by local dancer Jeanne Speier and her Indonesian partner Kamellia Smith. It marked the first time a Balinese dance got performed on the Asian Food Fest. Soon enough, a lot of passersby and visitors alike huddled in front of the stage, forming a crowd enthralled by the beauty of their movements.

On an interesting sidenote, Rio (son of Ria) manages to carve up an interesting chaise lounge sculpture from UNO wooden blocks

After the festival concluded, booth owner Ria said, “It was a challenge, but I am glad everyone seems to enjoy working in our booth! I am pretty confident that we can do much better next year. I have received suggestions that the booth can be more attractive by including more variety in the menu such as pisang goreng (fried banana) and traditional drinks such as "cendol" or "es teler". Also, some gamelan music can attract more attention”
Me in the middle (not realising the pic was taken) while Ria and her daughter Sabrina look on

It would definitely be something we are going to look forward to in 2013.

This post has been published on The Jakarta Globe.


Date a girl who reads

“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.” 

- Rosemarie Urquico


Indeed, the only way I can ever find a girl truly alluring is when I know that she's an avid reader. Knowing that she's a non-reader is like discovering that she has a bad breath...it's a complete no-no!


"Twilight Director's Notebook" by Catherine Hardwicke

Before I start, let me clarify one thing here: I am not, and never will be, a Twilight fan.

I have read all four books and watched three of the movies, and I have to admit that though the books are not necessarily as great as those teenage girls claim to be, the first Twilight movie does show a quality moviemaking.

There, I said it. The first Twilight movie is superb.

Which is the reason I got curious of "Twilight Director's Notebook : The Story of How We Made the Movie Based on the Novel by Stephenie Meyer", where the director Catherine Hardwicke compiles a huge stack of handwritten notes with a heap of pictures from the shoots and behind-the scenes. And voila, an amusing, and at times sentimental recollections of how the crew worked at their picturesque locations on the outskirts of Portland, OR.

It is also interesting to note how oftentimes Bella's scenes have to be done by a double because the actress Kristen S. was still 17 during most of the shoot process. In most U.S. states, you can only work a maximum of six hours a day if you are below 18. This led the crew to throw a birthday party saying "Welcome to [Working] nights!".

On the whole, this small-ish hardcover would be an interesting companion to watching the first movie. Unless of course, you don't like the movie either.

And try listening to Twilight OST album while leafing thru the pages.

Oh crap. Forget I said that. Now I'm sounding like a teenage girl too

Verdict: 7 out of 10 stars


"The Complete Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi


The entirety of Persepolis stories, which altogether forms a graphic memoir of an Iranian-European's experience in balancing her modern, sexualised, Westernised side with her secluded, backward-oriented, traditionalist Iranian side, offers us readers much more than meets the eye.

As a matter of fact, not only does the book provides a glimpse into her past personal life, but it also enlightens us readers on the topic of modern Iranian history and what it felt like to live in an oppressive regime like Iran was back then (and, to a certain extent, still is).

An insider's outlook to what the late 20th century Iran, "The Complete Persepolis" is guaranteed to leave us readers grateful that we do not live under such an oppressive regime like that.

Verdict: 9 out of 10 stars


My Grades in College so far...

Below is a list of all the classes I have taken in college, together with the number of credits and grade letters I have received for each of them!


"28 Days Later: The Aftermath" by Steve Niles


I was expecting something closer to the movie adaptation, but alas, I was disappointed. Spanning over a total of less than 100 page, this graphic novel is packed with action, though the "human" side of the survivors, as is apparent in the movie, is nigh nonexistent in this book.

It has a fabulous illustration though...I can give it that much.

Verdict: 4 out of 10 stars 


Flag of Libya

Before I start, take a look at the flag below.

Flag of the Tripolitania Vilayet (1864–1911)

No, it's not a joke.
It is a real historical flag of Libya, which was in use before it was colonised by Italy in 1934. Back then, its official name was Ottoman Vilayet of Tripolitania.

Now, take a look at another historical flag of Libya.

Flag of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (1977–2011)

Hideous, right?

That single-coloured flag above was used during the entirety of Muammar Gaddafi's reign. After Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, the National Transitional Council decides to readopt their old flag, that is, the more beautiful-looking flag that is used today.

Flag of the National Transitional Council (2011-present)

I have nothing against the colour of green, except for the fact that plain coloured flag reeks of dullness. Looks so uncreative. If green truly is the holy colour of Islam (which was allegedly the reason Gaddafi used the colour for the flag in the first place), why not beautify it with some stripes, or different shades of green, or add some crescent and star symbol?

Or add some Qur'an verses, such as in the case of Saudi Arabia.

Flag of Saudi Arabia, wherein is inscribed the shahada (Islamic declaration of faith)

It seemed as if the entire government under Gaddafi administration did not graduate from primary school...even today, I dare bet that I can pick any primary school anywhere in the United States and have at least 20 pupils draw a better-looking flag than that.

If I could pick the best flag for Libya, it would be the flag that has light blue field and a green palm tree in the centre, with a white star on top of it. Such a flag was used by Libya under the historical name of Tripolitanian Republic.

 Flag of the Tripolitanian Republic (1918–1923)


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